Topalov Levels the Score after another Thriller

Topalov,V (2805) - Anand,V (2787) [D17]
Sofia BUL, WCC 2010 Game_8 Sofia BUL (8), 04.05.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 c5 8.e4 Bg6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Bxd4 Nfd7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bxc4 Rc8 Anand changed his defensive set-up, but Topalov seemed prepared for that. 14.Bb5 a6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Ke2 f6 17.Rhd1 Ke8

There are only two games in Megabase featuring the position, and both were defended by F. Amonatov: 18.a5N [18.Rac1 was the more recent try, when Black could not hold after: 18...Rc6 19.Na2 Rxc1 20.Nxc1 Be7 21.Bb6 e5 22.Nd3 Bf7 23.Rc1 Bd8 24.a5 Ke7 25.Rc8 Re8 26.Rb8 and later 1–0 Maletin,P (2545)-Amonatov,F (2650)/Novokuznetsk 2008/CBM 126 (49); The other try was: 18.Bb6 Bc5 19.Bxc5 Rxc5 20.Rd6 Ke7 21.Rad1 Be8 22.R6d3 a5 23.Ke3 Bc6 with ballanced position in Bocharov,D (2614)-Amonatov,F (2574)/Voronezh 2007/CBM 118 ext (60)] 18...Be7 [18...Bb4!? might be an improvement for Black, with the idea: 19.Ra4 Be7 20.Bb6 Kf8!? followed by Bg6-e8-c6.] 19.Bb6 Rf8 With the idea Rf8-f7, followed by Be7-f8 and finally Rf7-d7. If Black manages to exchange this rook he will not have any problems. 20.Rac1 f5?! I believe this is the first inaccuracy by Black. He had to proceed with his plan: [20...Rf7!? 21.Na4 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Bd6 23.Nc5 (23.Be3 Rd7) 23...f5 with good chances for equality.] 21.e5 Bg5 22.Be3 f4?! The world champion missed an important detail. However, the move: [22...Bxe3 which he mentioned at the press-conferense does not really look perfectly safe: 23.Kxe3 f4+ 24.Kf2 (24.Kd4 is harmless for Black- 24...Ke7 25.Ne4 Bxe4 26.Kxe4 g5=) 24...Rf5 25.Re1! Here the idea from the game: (25.Ne4 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Rxe5 27.Rc5 Rd5 28.Rxd5 exd5 29.Nd6+ Ke7 30.Nxb7 Bd3 is not dangerous at all for Black, as the white king cannot reach d4 square easily-the pawns on g2 and f3 are targets.) 25...Rc5 (25...Kf8!? followed by Bg6-e8-c6 might be Black's best) 26.b4 Rcxe5 27.Ne4± looks awkward for Black; while 22...Be7 23.Na4 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 followed by Nb6 and Rc8 (c7) cannot be recommended for the second player.] 23.Ne4!

23...Rxc1 24.Nd6+ Kd7 25.Bxc1 The mighty knight on d6 and the more active pieces give White comfortable advantage. 25...Kc6 26.Bd2 Logical and good move. Another resonable option is: [26.Rd4 Kc5 (26...b5 27.axb6 Kxb6 28.g3 Kc6 (28...fxg3 29.Bxg5 gxh2 30.Rh4+-) 29.h4 Bd8 30.Bxf4±) 27.Rc4+ Kd5 28.Bd2 Kxe5 29.Nxb7 Be7 30.Rc7 Re8 31.b4± as the king on e5 is vulnerable, White preserves his large advantage.] 26...Be7 27.Rc1+ Kd7 28.Bc3?! [28.Bb4! was much better and natural. White will need this bishop later on b4 and eventually on d6 in some lines. Now: 28...Bxd6 29.Rd1 Rc8 30.Rxd6+± nets a healthy pawn on e6.] 28...Bxd6 29.Rd1! Topalov will have to find only moves in order not to let the advantage slip away: 29...Bf5 [29...Rd8!? trying to exchange the rooks is a good alternative. At first I though that White should be winning after: 30.Rxd6+ Ke7 31.Rb6 (31.Rxd8 Kxd8 32.Bd2 is a draw, as only one extra pawn is not enough to create enough passers. If White wants to go for an opposite-coloured bishops endgame he needs to snatch at least two pawns) 31...Rd7 32.Bb4+ Kf7 33.Bd6 Bf5 34.Kd2 as I saw the plan king going to a7, and then even to c8 if needed. But closer looks shows that Black has good counterplay- 34...g5 35.Kc3 h6 36.Kd4 Kg6 37.Rb3 (37.Kc5 Bd3 and Black threatens Bd3-f1xg2) 37...g4 38.Kc5 Kg5 39.Kb6 h5 and Black has strong counter-chances; 29...Rc8 30.Rxd6+ Ke7 31.Rb6 Rc7 32.Rb4±; 29...Kc8 30.Rxd6 Bf5 31.h4 might lead to the game continuation] 30.h4! Otherwise Black will connect his pawns with g7-g5 and will be out of danger. 30...g6 This is not bad, but Anand could have defended even better: [30...Kc7! 31.exd6+ (31.Rxd6 Rd8 32.Rb6 Rd5 followed by Rd5-b5 should be a draw) 31...Kd7 uses the fact that the g file is open, and if: 32.Bxg7 (32.Be5 keeps practical winning chances for White, as well as good drawish chances for Black after: 32...Rc8) 32...Rg8 33.Be5 Rxg2+ Black takes back the pawn with comfort.] 31.Rxd6+ Kc8 32.Bd2! Why? Why did Topalov need to exchange the rooks when he could have continued the game without the resources that the opposite-coloured bishop endgames always have. I thought that it was much better: [32.Rd4 And now: Passive defense does not save: 32...Rd8 a) However: 32...h6!! With the idea g6-g5 seems to lead to a forced draw thanks to an important tactical detail: 33.Bb4 (33.Rxf4 Bd3+! 34.Ke3 Rxf4 35.Kxf4 Bf1 36.g4 Kd7 37.Bd2 Ke7 38.Kg3 h5=) 33...Rf7 34.Rxf4 Bd3+! Black will win an important tempo to harass the white pawns from behind. As the pawn on h6 stops the manouver Kf4-g5-h6 Black is just in time to build a fortress: 35.Ke3 Rxf4 36.Kxf4 Kd7 37.Bf8 h5 38.Kg5 Ke8 39.Bc5 Kf7 40.Bd4 Bf1 41.g4 Be2=; b) 32...Bb1 33.Bd2 (33.Bb4 Rf5 (33...Rf7 34.Bd6 Ba2 35.Rd1 Bd5 36.Rc1+ Bc6 37.Kd3) ) 33...Rf7 34.Bxf4 Rc7± gives White an extra pawn, but with rooks still on the board, and excellent winning chances.; 33.Rxf4 Kc7 34.g4 Bc2 35.Rf6 (35.Rf7+ Rd7 36.Rf6) 35...Bb3 36.Ke3 followed by Ke3-f4-g5-h6 and Rf6-f7 (or Rf6-f8-h8 if the opponent's rook is on the seventh rank).] 32...Rd8 33.Bxf4 The only move to play for a win. If White does not have a passed pawn, he has nothing to fight for: [33.Rxd8+? Kxd8 34.Bxf4 Bc2 and the bishop is transfered to attack the white pawns 35.Ke3 Ba4 36.Kd4 Bb5 37.Kc5 Bf1 38.g3 Kd7 39.Bg5 Bg2 and the pawns are blocked] 33...Rxd6 34.exd6 Kd7 The arising endgame is far from trivial, and it is a great pleasure to analyse it. 35.Ke3 Bc2 36.Kd4

36...Ke8!! Fantastic move. The idea of exchanging the functions of the defensive pieces is surely not new, but is quite impressive nevertheless. If Black allows the opponent's king to penetrate via f6, White will create a second passer that is more than enough distant from its collegue on d6: [36...Bb3 37.Ke5 Bc4 38.Kf6 Bf1 39.g4 Be2 (39...Bd3 40.Kg7 h5 41.gxh5 gxh5 42.Kh6 Be2 43.Kxh5 Bxf3+ 44.Kh6+- and White wins as there are three lines between the passed pawns) 40.g5 This is what I was thinking should be the right plan during the game but White can win prosaically after: (40.Kg7 Bxf3 41.Kxh7 g5 42.hxg5 e5 43.Bxe5 Bxg4 44.g6 Bf5 45.Kg7+-) 40...Bxf3 I just cannot stand showing you one beautiful line that I discovered: 41.Kg7 Be2 42.Kxh7 Bh5 43.Be5 Kc6 44.Kg7 Kd7 45.Kf7 Zugzwang, black loses the pawn, but this is still not enough- 45...Kd8 46.Kxe6 Bg4+ 47.Kd5 In order to reach progress White must also use the queen's side pawns: 47...Ke8 48.Kc5 Kd7 49.Kb6 Bf3 50.b4 Bc6 (50...Kc8 51.Bf4 Kd7 might actaully save Black; 50...Bd5 51.h5 gxh5 52.g6 h4 53.g7 h3 54.Bf4 and the win is similar like in the main line) 51.h5! gxh5 52.g6 h4 53.g7 Bd5 54.Bf4 h3 55.Bh2 Kd8

This endgame without the a, b and black's h pawn is a theoretical draw. However here White wins after: 56.b5!! axb5 57.a6! bxa6 58.Kc5! and there is no defense against the idea Kc5-c6, d6-d7, Kc6-d6 and mate with the bishop on one of the diagonals: 58...Bb3 59.Kc6 b4 60.d7 Ba4+ 61.Kd6 Bb3 62.Bf4 a5 63.Bg5#] 37.Ke5 Kf7 38.Be3 Ba4 39.Kf4 Bb5 [39...Kf6 is a resource offered by Peter Doggers, but it is not sufficient, as after: 40.Bd4+ e5+ 41.Bxe5+ Ke6 42.Bc3 Kxd6 43.Kg5 Ke6 44.Kh6 Kf7 45.Kxh7 Bc6 46.Kh6 Bd5 White is technically winning: 47.h5 gxh5 48.Kxh5+- then he simply advances the pawns on the king's flank, wins the bishop, and thanks to the fact that there are still b pawns on the board (no fortress with a wrong-colour bishop idea) wins.] 40.Bc5 Kf6 41.Bd4+ Kf7 Here I left the hall, sure that the game should be a draw. I saw only one plan for White- to exchange the his h for the g pawn of the opponent, and then to create a second passer on the f line. But then, the distance between the passers is only one line, and this should be a draw. However, Topalov kept on playing and finally, the world champion erred: 42.Kg5 Bc6 43.Kh6 Kg8 44.h5 Be8 45.Kg5 Kf7 46.Kh6 Kg8 47.Bc5 gxh5 48.Kg5 Kg7 49.Bd4+ Kf7 50.Be5 h4 51.Kxh4 Kg6 52.Kg4 Bb5 53.Kf4 Kf7 54.Kg5 Bc6?? The decisive mistake. Black had to switch the functions of the defenders one more time: [54...Ke8 55.g4 Be2 56.f4 Bd3 57.f5 exf5 58.gxf5 and now the simplest is: 58...h6+ Although the position that arises after: (58...Kf7 59.f6 Bb5 should also be a draw, for example: 60.Kf4 (60.Kh6 Kg8) 60...h6 61.Ke3 Ke6 62.Kd4 h5 63.Kc5 h4 64.Kb6 h3 65.Kc7 Kxe5 66.f7 h2 67.f8Q h1Q=) 59.Kf6 Kd7 hitting the pawn on f5 with a draw.] 55.Kh6 Kg8 56.g4 And Anand resigned due to:[56.g4 Bd7 57.g5 Be8 (57...Bc6 changes nothing as White has many reserved moves 58.Bg7 Be8 59.f4‡+-) 58.Bg7

58...Bc6 59.g6 hxg6 60.Kxg6 Be8+ 61.Kf6 Bb5 62.Bh6 followed by Ke7 and material gains. A painful defeat for the world champion. Topalov finally managed to materialize his playing advantage from the last games. The score is levelled, and as the match is approaching its final phase the most important question is if the players will continue to risk and search for a win in the regular part of the match, or will settle for solid play. I hope that it will be the first option.] 1–0

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